Delhi has a heart and the popular phrase Dilwale Dilliwale may not be a gross exaggeration. Yesterday I attended a Partners’ Meet organised by World Vision India. My being a sponsor of a child through the NGO is one of the many paradoxes that constitute me. I’m not religious at all. I’m a staunch critic of religions. I know that religion has been a cause of strife and wars throughout the documented history of mankind. Yet, quite a few years ago, when I decided to do something meaningful for at least one child in the country I chose World Vision which proudly proclaims itself as a Christian organisation. The reason was simple: I wanted an NGO that will put my monthly contribution to good use. It was after sufficient research that I chose World Vision.
|A song from World Vision's children|
Until yesterday I was under the false impression that most of World Vision’s sponsors and donors were Christians. The capacious Sathya Sai Baba Auditorium was nearly filled with sponsors and donors from Delhi most of whom were Hindus. I observed the names on the list of participants, you see.
One of the “partners” (as World Vision likes to call them) asked a question forthrightly. “You declare yourself a Christian organisation. What exactly do you mean by that?” I cannot quote verbatim Dr Jayakumar Christian, National Director of World Vision India. But his answer went something like this: “We do not look at the caste or creed of any child. We do not run any institution for giving any particular religious education to the children. We send the children to whichever school that exists in his or her community. It may be a Panchayat school. If an English medium school is available we make use of that too. Letting a child grow up into a good citizen who is not only successful in her own life but also is useful to her society is all what our mission is. Christianity is the religion that sustains us.” [I have conjoined more than one answer of Dr Christian.]
We, the partners, met some of the beneficiaries of World Vision’s work in Delhi. They were Rekha, Shabana Ali, Jyoti, and so on. They spoke about how the NGO transformed their lives almost miraculously. None of them mentioned any sort of religious activity.
|A Rajasthani dance by the children|
It is possible that the work done by the NGO influences certain individuals who may choose to change their religion. I don’t know what World Vision’s policy is about that. I never cared to enquire about it simply because I am of the conviction that if any religion attracts anyone by the good work it does and motivates him to do similar good deeds, it is a welcome conversion. This conviction of mine is applicable to any religion. It is applicable to my non-religion, my atheism, too. What is important is whether your religion or your atheism satisfies you intellectually and emotionally as well as helps you to be a good human being. Nothing else matters when it comes to religion.
Delhi did surprise me yesterday. I met people who have been contributing to World Vision for almost two decades. I watched the enthusiasm of Delhiites who wished to do even more than what they were doing. There were even college students who said they were contributing from their pocket money. Delhi indeed has a heart. I was excited to realise that. I remain a confirmed atheist, however.